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Concept: Cell nucleus


BACKGROUND: Understanding the mechanical properties of chromatin is an essential step towards deciphering the physicalrules of gene regulation. In the past ten years, many single molecule experiments have been carried out, andhigh resolution measurements of the chromatin fiber stiffness are now available. Simulations have been usedin order to link those measurements with structural cues, but so far no clear agreement among different groupshas been reached. RESULTS: We revisit here one of the most precise results obtained with carefully reconstituted fibers. CONCLUSIONS: We show that the mechanical properties of the chromatin fiber can be quantitatively accounted for by thestiffness of the DNA molecule and the 3D structure of the chromatin fiber.

Concepts: DNA, Gene, Cell nucleus, Gene expression, Histone, RNA, Chromosome, Chromatin


Clustered, regularly interspaced, short palindromic repeats-CRISPR associated (CRISPR-Cas) systems are prokaryotic RNA-directed endonuclease machineries that act as an adaptive immune system against foreign genetic elements. Using small CRISPR RNAs that provide specificity, Cas proteins recognize and degrade nucleic acids. Our previous work demonstrated that the Cas9 endonuclease from Francisella novicida (FnCas9) is capable of targeting endogenous bacterial RNA. Here, we show that FnCas9 can be directed by an engineered RNA-targeting guide RNA to target and inhibit a human +ssRNA virus, hepatitis C virus, within eukaryotic cells. This work reveals a versatile and portable RNA-targeting system that can effectively function in eukaryotic cells and be programmed as an antiviral defense.

Concepts: DNA, Protein, Gene, Cell nucleus, Bacteria, Organism, Virus, RNA


Taxol and other antimitotic agents are frontline chemotherapy agents but the mechanisms responsible for patient benefit remain unclear. Following a genome-wide siRNA screen, we identified the oncogenic transcription factor Myc as a taxol sensitizer. Using time-lapse imaging to correlate mitotic behavior with cell fate, we show that Myc sensitizes cells to mitotic blockers and agents that accelerate mitotic progression. Myc achieves this by upregulating a cluster of redundant pro-apoptotic BH3-only proteins and suppressing pro-survival Bcl-xL. Gene expression analysis of breast cancers indicates that taxane responses correlate positively with Myc and negatively with Bcl-xL. Accordingly, pharmacological inhibition of Bcl-xL restores apoptosis in Myc-deficient cells. These results open up opportunities for biomarkers and combination therapies that could enhance traditional and second-generation antimitotic agents.

Concepts: DNA, Gene, Genetics, Cell nucleus, Gene expression, Cancer, Chemotherapy, Transcription factor


The trans-activator Tat protein is a viral regulatory protein essential for HIV-1 replication. Tat trafficks to the nucleoplasm and the nucleolus. The nucleolus, a highly dynamic and structured membrane-less sub-nuclear compartment, is the site of rRNA and ribosome biogenesis and is involved in numerous cellular functions including transcriptional regulation, cell cycle control and viral infection. Importantly, transient nucleolar trafficking of both Tat and HIV-1 viral transcripts are critical in HIV-1 replication, however, the role(s) of the nucleolus in HIV-1 replication remains unclear. To better understand how the interaction of Tat with the nucleolar machinery contributes to HIV-1 pathogenesis, we investigated the quantitative changes in the composition of the nucleolar proteome of Jurkat T-cells stably expressing HIV-1 Tat fused to a TAP tag. Using an organellar proteomic approach based on mass spectrometry, coupled with Stable Isotope Labelling in Cell culture (SILAC), we quantified 520 proteins, including 49 proteins showing significant changes in abundance in Jurkat T-cell nucleolus upon Tat expression. Numerous proteins exhibiting a fold change were well characterised Tat interactors and/or known to be critical for HIV-1 replication. This suggests that the spatial control and subcellular compartimentaliation of these cellular cofactors by Tat provide an additional layer of control for regulating cellular machinery involved in HIV-1 pathogenesis. Pathway analysis and network reconstruction revealed that Tat expression specifically resulted in the nucleolar enrichment of proteins collectively participating in ribosomal biogenesis, protein homeostasis, metabolic pathways including glycolytic, pentose phosphate, nucleotides and amino acids biosynthetic pathways, stress response, T-cell signaling pathways and genome integrity. We present here the first differential profiling of the nucleolar proteome of T-cells expressing HIV-1 Tat. We discuss how these proteins collectively participate in interconnected networks converging to adapt the nucleolus dynamic activities, which favor host biosynthetic activities and may contribute to create a cellular environment supporting robust HIV-1 production.

Concepts: DNA, Protein, Gene, Cell nucleus, Amino acid, Metabolism, RNA, Ribosome


Quorum sensing (QS) signaling allows bacteria to control gene expression once a critical population density is achieved. The Gram-negative human pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa uses N-acylhomoserine lactones (AHL) as QS signals, which coordinate the production of virulence factors and biofilms. These bacterial signals can also modulate human cell behavior. Little is known about the mechanisms of the action of AHL on their eukaryotic targets. Here, we found that N-3-oxo-dodecanoyl-L-homoserine lactone 3O-C(12)-HSL modulates human intestinal epithelial Caco-2 cell migration in a dose- and time-dependent manner. Using new 3O-C(12)-HSL biotin and fluorescently-tagged probes for LC-MS/MS and confocal imaging, respectively, we demonstrated for the first time that 3O-C(12)-HSL interacts and co-localizes with the IQ-motif-containing GTPase-activating protein IQGAP1 in Caco-2 cells. The interaction between IQGAP1 and 3O-C(12)-HSL was further confirmed by pull-down assay using a GST-tagged protein with subsequent Western blot of IQGAP1 and by identifying 3O-C(12)-HSL with a sensor bioassay. Moreover, 3O-C(12)-HSL induced changes in the phosphorylation status of Rac1 and Cdc42 and the localization of IQGAP1 as evidenced by confocal and STED microscopy and Western blots. Our findings suggest that the IQGAP1 is a novel partner for P.aeruginosa 3O-C(12)-HSL and likely the integrator of Rac1 and Cdc42- dependent altered cell migration. We propose that the targeting of IQGAP1 by 3O-C(12)-HSL can trigger essential changes in the cytoskeleton network and be an essential component in bacterial - human cell communication.

Concepts: DNA, Gene, Cell nucleus, Gene expression, Cell, Bacteria, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Biofilm


The human deubiquitinase USP1 plays important roles in cancer-related processes, such as the DNA damage response, and the maintenance of the undifferentiated state of osteosarcoma cells. USP1 deubiquitinase activity is critically regulated by its interaction with the WD40 repeat-containing protein UAF1. Inhibiting the function of the USP1/UAF1 complex sensitizes cancer cells to chemotherapy, suggesting that this complex is a relevant anticancer target. Intriguingly, whereas UAF1 has been reported to locate in the cytoplasm, USP1 is a nuclear protein, although the sequence motifs that mediate its nuclear import have not been functionally characterized. Here, we identify two nuclear localization signals (NLSs) in USP1 and show that these NLSs mediate the nuclear import of the USP1/UAF1 complex. Using a cellular relocation assay based on these results, we map the UAF1-binding site to a highly conserved 100 amino acid motif in USP1. Our data support a model in which USP1 and UAF1 form a complex in the cytoplasm that subsequently translocates to the nucleus through import mediated by USP1 NLSs. Importantly, our findings have practical implications for the development of USP1-directed therapies. First, the UAF1-interacting region of USP1 identified here might be targeted to disrupt the USP1/UAF1 interaction with therapeutic purposes. On the other hand, we describe a cellular relocation assay that can be easily implemented in a high throughput setting to search for drugs that may dissociate the USP1/UAF1 complex.

Concepts: DNA, Protein, Gene, Cell nucleus, Cell, Cell biology, Cytoplasm, Nuclear localization signal


Acute kidney injury (AKI) is a common consequence of systemic illness or injury and it complicates several forms of major surgery. Two major difficulties have hampered progress in AKI research and clinical management. AKI is difficult to detect early and its pathogenesis is still poorly understood. We recently reported results from multi-center studies where two urinary markers of cell-cycle arrest, tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinases-2 (TIMP-2) and insulin-like growth factor-binding protein 7 (IGFBP7) were validated for development of AKI well ahead of clinical manifestations-azotemia and oliguria. Cell-cycle arrest is known to be involved in the pathogenesis of AKI and this ‘dark side’ may also involve progression to chronic kidney disease. However, cell-cycle arrest has a ‘light side’ as well, since this mechanism can protect cells from the disastrous consequences of entering cell division with damaged DNA or insufficient bioenergetic resources during injury or stress. Whether we can use the light side to help prevent AKI remains to be seen, but there is already evidence that cell-cycle arrest biomarkers are indicators of both sides of this complex physiology.

Concepts: DNA, Renal failure, Chronic kidney disease, Kidney, Nephrology, Cell nucleus, Cell, Cell division


The absence of a quality control (QC) system is a major weakness for the comparative analysis of genome-wide profiles generated by next-generation sequencing (NGS). This concerns particularly genome binding/occupancy profiling assays like chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP-seq) but also related enrichment-based studies like methylated DNA immunoprecipitation/methylated DNA binding domain sequencing, global run on sequencing or RNA-seq. Importantly, QC assessment may significantly improve multidimensional comparisons that have great promise for extracting information from combinatorial analyses of the global profiles established for chromatin modifications, the bindings of epigenetic and chromatin-modifying enzymes/machineries, RNA polymerases and transcription factors and total, nascent or ribosome-bound RNAs. Here we present an approach that associates global and local QC indicators to ChIP-seq data sets as well as to a variety of enrichment-based studies by NGS. This QC system was used to certify >5600 publicly available data sets, hosted in a database for data mining and comparative QC analyses.

Concepts: DNA, Gene, Cell nucleus, Gene expression, Molecular biology, RNA, Chromatin immunoprecipitation, Transcription factor


Numerous transcription factors (TFs) encode information about upstream signals in the dynamics of their activation, but how downstream genes decode these dynamics remains poorly understood. Using microfluidics to control the nucleocytoplasmic translocation dynamics of the budding yeast TF Msn2, we elucidate the principles that govern how different promoters convert dynamical Msn2 input into gene expression output in single cells. Combining modeling and experiments, we classify promoters according to their signal-processing behavior and reveal that multiple, distinct gene expression programs can be encoded in the dynamics of Msn2. We show that both oscillatory TF dynamics and slow promoter kinetics lead to higher noise in gene expression. Furthermore, we show that the promoter activation timescale is related to nucleosome remodeling. Our findings imply a fundamental trade-off: although the cell can exploit different promoter classes to differentially control gene expression using TF dynamics, gene expression noise fundamentally limits how much information can be encoded in the dynamics of a single TF and reliably decoded by promoters.

Concepts: DNA, Gene, Genetics, Cell nucleus, Gene expression, Transcription, Transcription factor, RNA polymerase


Deep sequencing now provides detailed snapshots of ribosome occupancy on mRNAs. We leverage these data to parameterize a computational model of translation, keeping track of every ribosome, tRNA, and mRNA molecule in a yeast cell. We determine the parameter regimes in which fast initiation or high codon bias in a transgene increases protein yield and infer the initiation rates of endogenous Saccharomyces cerevisiae genes, which vary by several orders of magnitude and correlate with 5' mRNA folding energies. Our model recapitulates the previously reported 5'-to-3' ramp of decreasing ribosome densities, although our analysis shows that this ramp is caused by rapid initiation of short genes rather than slow codons at the start of transcripts. We conclude that protein production in healthy yeast cells is typically limited by the availability of free ribosomes, whereas protein production under periods of stress can sometimes be rescued by reducing initiation or elongation rates.

Concepts: Protein, Cell nucleus, RNA, Ribosome, Yeast, Messenger RNA, Protein biosynthesis, Genetic code